Research and Development
CYOEVF researchers have achieved a number of patents and publications through their unique work in genetics to the benefit of agriculture and health. Several ongoing projects are outlined below:
Image analysis of cattle. Condition score and comparison with carcass results
J Smith, S Lloyd, S Dawkins
Monitoring marbling using biopsies
Early diagnosis and genetic testing of EOTRH in horses
J Valenzuela, J Ledge, L Baker
Regeneration of soils and pastures with C14 capture including domestication and conservation of coprid beetles
T Lloyd, J Allen, R Harper, J Macaulay
Immunogenetics of parasite resistance
J Greef, G Martin, S Lloyd, J Ledger
Monitoring of economic trends affecting WA agriculture and exploring improvements
Valenzuela, J. L. J. L., Lloyd, S. S. S. S., Mastaglia, F. L. F. L., & Dawkins, R. L. R. L. (2020). Adipose invasion of muscle in Wagyu cattle: Monitoring by histology and melting temperature. Meat Science, 163, 108063. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meatsci.2020.108063
Valenzuela, J. L., Lloyd, S. S., Mastaglia, F. L., Dawkins, R. L., Steele, E. J., Mastaglia, F. L., & Dawkins, R. L. (2019). Interspecies translation: Bovine marbling to human muscular dystrophy. In K. Sakuma (Ed.), Muscular Dystrophies. https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.82685
Dawkins, & Lloyd. (2019). MHC Genomics and Disease: Looking Back to Go Forward. Cells, 8(9), 944. https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8090944
Lloyd, S. S., Steele, E. J., Valenzuela, J. L., & Dawkins, R. L. (2017). Haplotypes for Type, Degree and Rate of Marbling in Cattle are Syntenic with Human Muscular Dystrophy. International Journal of Genomics, In Press, Article ID 6532837, 14 pages. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/6532837
Lloyd, S. S., Valenzuela, J. L., Steele, E. J., & Dawkins, R. L. (2017). Genetics of Marbling in Wagyu Revealed by the Melting Temperature of Intramuscular and Subcutaneous Lipids. International Journal of Food Science, 2017, Article ID 3948408, 6 pages. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/3948408
Lloyd, S. S., Steele, E. J., & Dawkins, R. L. (2016). Analysis of Haplotype Sequences. In J. K. Kulski (Ed.), Next Generation Sequencing – Advances, Applications and Challenges (pp. 345–368). https://doi.org/10.5772/60489
Dawkins, R. L. (2015). Adapting Genetics: Quantal Evolution After Natural Selection – Surviving The Changes To Come. Dallas, TX: Near Urban Publishing. Available from Amazon
Steele, E. J. (2015). Ancestral Haplotypes: Our Genomes Have Been Shaped In The Deep Past. Dallas, TX: Near Urban Publishing. Available from Amazon
Lloyd, S. S., Bayard, D., Lester, S., Williamson, J. F., Steele, E. J., & Dawkins, R. L. (2014). Ancestral Haplotypes, Quantal Genomics and Healthy Beef S. Proceedings, 10th World Congress of Genetics Applied to Livestock Production. http://wcgalp.org/system/files/proceedings/2014/ancestral-haplotypes-quantal-genomics-and-healthy-beef.pdf
Lloyd, S. S.., Dawkins, S. . T., & Dawkins, R. L. . (2014). A novel method of measuring the melting point of animal fats. Journal of Animal Science, 92(10), 4775–4778. https://doi.org/10.2527/jas.2014-7981
The demand for “grass feeding” as opposed to feeding with grain continues to increase. Various regimes are being compared. The use of “EasyGrass” pellets as an ad lib cattle supplement can improve perennial pastures. Explanations, such as increased nitrogen excretion, will be investigated.
Supplemented feeding improves pastures (right) compared to conventional feeding (left)
Beef cattle field trials are conducted on TMG farms on hill country at North Dandalup and on the Peel sand plain at nearby Nambeelup and Waroona. Farmers in the region have traditionally grazed cattle on the sandplain in summer, where they could find superficial water in swamp areas and move them to hill paddocks in winter to overcome mineral deficiencies.
Wagyu and Akaushi on the Nambeelup sandplain
TMG cattle in hill country at North Dandalup
Current projects include measuring the melting point of intramuscular fat in beef. Characteristics of Wagyu and Akaushi Japanese cattle include marbling, which improves flavour and texture but, more importantly, contains fat that melts at below human body temperature. This fat is readily metabolised, whereas fat that remains solid may cause health problems. It is therefore important that the genes found in Japanese cattle are bred into other herds with sufficient certainty, i.e. through genetic testing.
Another project is developing a simple, low-cost DNA trace (a sort of animal “fingerprint”). Potentially you can trace an animal through its life, then through the abattoir, processing plant and consumer outlet. Tracing is critical as there are more Australian Wagyu marketed than actually produced, and all sorts of meat are relabelled as Australian Wagyu. The solution to that problem is to trace the DNA all the way down the chain. Apart from protecting country-of-origin and brand reputations in export markets, where product substitution is rife, the trace could have benefits closer to home. Potentially, tracing can be used for all agricultural produce.
Researchers are also looking to identify genetic strains of Kikuyu that are able to adapt by sending roots down almost two metres and can cope with the relatively rapid water table movement in the Peel sand plain. Water levels can change up to 1.5 metres from winter to summer. If adaptable strains can be identified genetically and successfully bred, we could produce more robust pastures less reliant on irrigation. Further, these strains are better able to filter nutrients out of the water table before it reaches the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary. The variety of Kikuyu that has survived locally from 40 years ago is the one that has deep roots. Successful varieties change the soil ecology and allow other grasses and perennial legumes to flourish. Kikuyu and perennial clovers benefit agriculture in the region.